NBA 08 - hands-on with Player Progression, NBA Replay

But for those heartbroken few who've already made their peace with last season, there's still hope. The developer will be keeping a close eye on the upcoming NBA campaign as they re-create five top performances from each week of this latest season and offer them for free download. A nice bonus to be sure, but how they remain fresh will be one of the game's biggest question marks when you consider the absurd length of an NBA season.

Next is the Player Progression system, a sort of hybrid between a user profile and the standard create-a-player found in every sports game since the classic Dr. James Naismith Presents Peach Basket Ball 1926. You'll have the usual palette of options available at your disposal for creating a character, though our preview build was a little heavy on facial sliders and light on other physical attributes. Once built, you'll plug your character into your favorite team's roster and watch as he immediately proceeds to suck at historical levels. Well, maybe not historical, but your player does begin as a scrub. To fix this, you gain credits for unlocking new abilities and gear by participating in pretty much all of the gameplay modes found in NBA 08.

This is where it starts to look a lot like a user profile. Credits are earned not just by doing well with your created player, but by doing well in any department of the game. Even the aforementioned NBA Replay will earn you credits for building up your character. The same goes for the various mini-games and seasonal modes. Each mode has specific goals to unlock, of course, like in an exhibition game where it ranges from simple (win a game against the Timberwolves) to the slightly more difficult (match Wilt Chamberlain's 100 point record for a single game), though you do get a bonus for using your custom character in these situations.

Considering this, the Player Progression system basically acts as an overall reflection of your time and energy spent in NBA 08 as a whole - think of it as a user level that's physically embodied as an on-court avatar. But will other aspects of the game provide enough incentive to build this avatar into a basketball monster? We'll have more on that as NBA 08's release draws closer.